Friday, February 12, 2016

"A Striver, A Polemicist And A Jerk"

As of the current writing, these are the leading candidates for president of the United States.  And by the way, if you use the word “polemicist” in public, you will have no chance in this race whatsoever. 

“Four syllables?  Forget about it!”

My first question – although in is not the first question on cable news programs; their first question is, “Who’s ahead?  Who’s behind?  Who’s on first?  What’s on second?”  (“I don’t know.”  “Third base.”)

This is my first question because it seems like the question we should be asking first; like when you step into a leaky rowboat, you first question is not “What kind of wood is this made out of?” but “Are we going to sink?” 

Since the preeminent issue is staring us in the face, my first question concerning our presidential candidates is…

“Is this the really best we can do?”

A striver, a polemicist and a jerk?

(Self-Awareness Acknowledgment:  This question, as with a preponderance of my questions, is not asked – not only first but ever at all – because it is a “dead-end” proposition, the realistic approach being, these are the candidatesdeal with it!
“Hypotheticals” are irrelevant, not to mention an annoying pain in the ass. 

You will not be surprised to hear that I do not personally agree with this perception, believing instead that asking dead-end-appearing questions will attract attention to the issue, eventually ultimately generating a solution. 


Guilty as charged.  Making me an unelectable candidate for president, “dreamer” being a more determinative disqualifier than striver, polemicist or jerk.  Plus, like Mr. Cruz, I was born in Canada.  Although my mother was, in fact, born in New York. 

I have to look into that.  Maybe I could run.  If I wanted to.  But I don’t.  So never mind.

As I mentioned not long ago – and I am known to repeat myself but who has original thoughts every day? – more than anything in my view, a presidential election is a popularity contest.  I shall revisit that assertion momentarily.  First, however, some historical underpinning, suggesting how the election of president became a popularity contest.

(And believe me – as one of the candidates is habitually braying – it is.  There was a survey once revealing that the candidate capturing the presidency is invariably the taller one.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Think about it.  Where in this country are short people more popular than tall people?  There’s a well-known songwriter who believes that short people have no a reason to live!)   

Okay.  What I am about you explain to you, you either already know, you don’t know but you don’t care, or you don’t know but you’d like to know, giving me a one in three chance of mentioning something worthwhile.

That’s better than my usual odds.  I’m goin’ for it!

In the “Parliamentary System of Democracy” – e.g. England and Canada – the Prime Minister is the leader of the party that, in the most recent election, won the most seats in the governing legislature.

Do you see what that means?  It means there is “Majority Government.”  Always.  (There are occasionally “Minority Governments”, but I am “this close” to boring you to tears already, so we shall leave it at that, though you can look that up if you’re interested.)

The consequence of “Majority Government” is obvious.  For the length of its tenure in power, the majority party gets to implement the policies that got them elected the majority party in the first place.  Though they can vigorously protest, the minority party cannot stop them, lacking the requisite votes to keep the majority party’s legislative bills from being enacted. 

There’s a lyric in “The Bum Won” from the musical Fiorello!

“People can do what they want to but I got a feeling it ain’t democratic.”    

The people elect their representatives, whose party’s leader – after an assiduous vetting process to insure the party’s rank-and-file and its leader’s sentiments are in sync – becomes Prime Minister.  The winners then control the legislative agenda.  If the people dislike the subsequent outcome, they can throw majority party out in the next election, electing the opposition party instead.

What do American’s think about that process?

“People can do what they want to but I got a feeling it ain’t democratic.”

Americans – in their wisdom, based on the Republican System of Government – elect their president separately from their legislators – one vote for their local representative, a distinct second vote for president, inviting “Divided Government” and consequent gridlock, plus an electoral process turning the presidential election into a popularity contest.  (Where the tallest candidate wins!  As if “Here, let me get that for you” foretells a superior leader for the Free World.)

A lot of people want no part of popularity contests, either because they are aware they are unpopular – mentioning no names here – or because they believe that the idea of deciding who will hold the most important job in the country on the basis of popularity is stupid.  (Or they did a terrible thing before running for president and they are afraid it’ll come out.  Seen anything of John Edwards lately?)

In the current arrangement, the election of president comes down, as the cliché goes, to

“Who would you rather have a beer with?”

The “Striver”?

“Two beers.  Make mine a little heartier.  I want to prove to ‘the people’ that I’m a ‘Regular Joe’.  Or in this case, ‘Joann’.  Hah-hah-hah.”

The “Polemicist”?

“Beer is fine, I have nothing against beer.  But let me tell you.  I am very concerned that alcohol is a tool of the “Powerful” in this country to cloud the minds of the proletariat.”

Or the “Jerk”.

“I know a lot of losers who drink beer – I hate to say it, but it’s true.  I’m going to order for you, okay?  Don’t worry about it.  It’s going to be great.”

I’ll tell ya.  If this were a poker game, I would happily throw in my cards and take my chances on better ones. 

Sad to say, this is not a poker game.

So we are required to play these ones.  


Wendy M. Grossman said...

OK. Here's my question: which candidate is which?


Lord Lillis said...

Uh oh, they had CNN on at the dentist again, didn’t they?

If you’ve Canadian readers they did a spit take of their double-doubles when they read “…whose party’s leader – after an assiduous vetting process to insure the party’s rank-and-file and its leader’s sentiments are in sync – becomes Prime Minister.” The last Prime Minister, a Conservative, was elected and promptly dropped his entire “reform” (or should that be Reform) platform. Anyone one objecting, either in Parliament or in the country, was treated with truly Canadian ruthlessness.

CBC: The PM’s office today announce that, after his criticisms of Harper last night, Smith has been transferred from his job as Minister of Defense to Director of Toronto Maple Leaf Victory Celebrations.

The head of the opposition wasn’t much better; he was a guy who had forgotten he was Canadian. He was so well loved by the rank-and-file that his party dropped to third at the next election behind a group that makes Sanders look like a plutocrat. For his replacement, given a choice between an intelligent, accomplished ex-astronaut and someone with a famous name and once won a boxing match the Canadians of course picked…well…lets just say don't challenge the new Canadian premier to a fight sponsored by People Magazine.

I’m optimistic. That’s saying something – I’m optimistic as often as Earl is self-confident. But one funny thing about Americans: when the politicians don't listen to them they listen to the noisiest politicians. Most of the other candidates are smart, experienced people – they will come up with the right mix of “angry” and “smart” and start winning. There are still a few left in the running. There’s that bright, energetic up-beat guy who’s needle got stuck. There’s also (my favorite) the Midwest banker who reminds us to be polite and eat our vegetables. He looks pretty good next to the “Jerk”. There’s another guy too but I’ll let others comment on him. So we’re not stuck with the three you mentioned; not yet, anyway.

But maybe this was a secret, coded announcement; part of a master plan to be the American Beppo Grillo. Sorry if I blew your cover.

P.S. Was binge reading your posts and saw you were really sick. I’m glad to see that you are feeling better. Stay well.

FFS said...

And with three major parties, a "majority" government can rule with 60% of the popular vote going against them.

FFS said...

In a local provincial by-election there was a candidate whose name was "Above Znoneofthe". He changed his name legally and added the "z" so he could be last on the ballot. He received 0.43% of the votes and was going to change his name back after the election.